Donna Quesada: And how do we find that balance between individually waking up, and the work that needs to be done, collectively?
Or, does such a thing exist?
Byron Katie: No one has to do this work. That’s why, by invitation, here I am.
DONNA: But, I mean, the balance between individual action, and social action? How do we find that?
KATIE: Ask the question again.
DONNA: So, for example, when people say, “oh, you’re doing work on yourself, just to change yourself, or help yourself, or heal yourself… There is stuff that needs to be done in the world, collectively.
KATIE: So, what is stopping you from doing it? Only insanity. I mean, we become kinder human beings, not stupid. Not asleep to another person’s suffering. I would question anything that would keep me from serving another human being. How can I get to those people that I read about in the news, that had chocolate donuts for breakfast, and it happened to be in one of the detention camps? I think that is what they are calling them… on the other side of the border. So, all these children and adults are getting chocolate donuts and burritos, in the evening, and that’s it. The roof leaks when it rains, and on, and on, and on, and on. What is stopping me from doing something about that? I would look to myself, first, before I would expect it from another human being. And I would question anything that would stop me from serving another human being.
Now, there is no way I can serve every suffering child or adult. But I can question what I am believing about people, and situations, and life… and come to an understanding within myself. If I’m just walking down the street, it’s oh, I can’t help these children. And then, there is litter in front of me, that someone could trip on, and I just walk around it… wondering about these poor human beings. Now, go back. Move the debris. Do the right thing with that. Maybe it belongs in the garbage. Maybe you take it home. Maybe you give it away. Maybe you just move it out of harm’s way. But begin there. It’s everywhere, Donna. Because here I am! Here I am. But, oh, I’m busy. I’m in Mexico. But, the detention camp is so close… it’s just over the border. And I’m tripping over what is in front of me. Or, I am leaving, ‘cause someone else might. And don’t think we don’t see it. We can’t walk around it and feel good about ourselves. We can get all the way to the corner, and I can see that in my mind’s eye, that I just stepped over. It’s never too late to come back…start over.
Take care of it and continue on my way. It’s never too late. But my job is to serve what I can, where I am, and out of an attitude that takes no credit for it. And not as a selfless thing… you’re not selfless, at all. This is a selfish thing. To do the right thing, we feel better. Cause and effect. We feel right in ourselves, but if I am so worried about all these other people, I need to question what I’m thinking and believing about those people. And then, in those turn-arounds. They are living turn-arounds there. I want him to come help me because I’m sick. I want me to go help him because he’s sick and he can’t get up. What does that mean? I’m just going to muse there. But, he’s not just my partner, or husband, or whatever. He’s my fellow traveler in this world. So, suffering. All the big suffering. I can take care of that, but what about this one little thing? And then, watch how the ego burns, when he does not reciprocate. He is your push. Those people in the world… they are our push. No one can end my suffering. That’s my job.
DONNA: Do you have a personal practice? Like a meditation practice that you do?
KATIE: The dishes. That’s my practice.
DONNA: I love that.
KATIE: The thing in front of me. They can be like, “No, it’s not my turn. It’s his turn.” It won’t matter. Well, I’ll do it this evening. But no. Just do the dishes. And that is my practice.
DONNA: That is so Zen!
KATIE: Yes, just do the thing in front of you. Well, I love that it’s so Zen because I must be Zen.
DONNA: Well, your husband, Steven Mitchell, is a known Buddhist scholar, and I bring this up because your latest work has you collaborating together. You collaborated together, recently, on The Diamond Sutra?
KATIE: Oh, yes. He translated. He does this translation of The Diamond Sutra. And then, he would read a chapter to me, and then I would respond to that. And then, he would write down what I was saying, as I was talking, and then, in his elegant way, makes it readable. Yeah, The Diamond Sutra, A mind at home with itself.
DONNA: I took great interest in that because your approach was so similar, and I was wondering if you could say, in a sentence, where your approach differs from, say, the Buddhist approach to suffering?
KATIE: I don’t know Buddhism, so I couldn’t really say. I did learn recently, The Four Noble Truths. And, they just blew my mind. So, when we looked at the first two, Suffering and Discontent… because on a scale of one to ten, who cares? Pain is pain. So, there is suffering and discontent, and a cause to the suffering. And, there is a way out of the suffering, and that is true for me, and for countless other people, that are still doing this, as a practice. So, there is a way out of the suffering. And, The Work is how I found a way out of suffering. And, there are many ways, and this is just one way. And, whatever serves people. That’s the one. The way I’ve been shown is inquiry. That’s the way out of suffering. And thankfully, it’s moving very beautifully in the world, to the other, and the other, and the other.
You know the person who is agoraphobic… who is terrified to leave, not only their house, but their bedroom? The way I was for so many years. And we can do this alone, from our bedroom. We can get free, wherever we are. It doesn’t mean we have to go out into the world. But as we continue, we lose our fear. We become aware. In that bedroom, I was all over the world, in terror, in my mind’s eye. So, to identify those thoughts, and to question them from wherever we are, and whatever circumstance.
DONNA: I’m smiling because I am thinking of one of your talks where you likened us to Loony Toons. When we don’t do that, then we become like crazy people because we have beliefs that have got a hold on us.
KATIE: Yeah, we are out of our right minds and that distinction… suffering and no suffering…That’s quite a thing. We can become complacent with just little things, like, he didn’t call me. And, we can actually question that, and know it’s true that he didn’t call me today. And, we can question that, and sit in it. How do I react when I breathe with that thought? This is all hypothetical, but, he didn’t call me. We all find our place with it and, is it true? And, we absolutely know that it’s true. Now, I’m wondering, was my phone on airplane mode? Was I carrying my phone? He didn’t call me. Is it true? That’s an amazing question. Maybe he called the wrong number, and then, was in a hurry to do something else, and forgot. Is it true? It’s an amazing question. And, we come out kinder for it. Believing is so limited.
DONNA: And yet, it’s true. He didn’t call. You can’t dial wrong these days…
KATIE: And then, I would move to… How do I react? That’s the question. I see an image of him doing other things. I see him more occupied with things, and I’m at the bottom of his list. I’m getting in touch with my emotions, now. And now, I see, I’ve put the cup on the counter just a little too hard. And now, I notice that my addiction, whatever I’m addicted to, comes to my state of mind. Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, food, television, a screen… it doesn’t matter. That comes to mind. It’s there, in that space. How do I react, when I believe the thought? So, I’m just sitting here, with you, noticing how I react when I believe the thought, He Didn’t Call Me. Now, everything I’m experiencing, right now… It’s all his fault. Really? What I’m thinking and believing, is an effect because he didn’t call me. Mind is original cause. Mind is cause. So, who would I be without the thought that he didn’t call me?
DONNA: A peaceful person.
KATIE: Yes. Yes. And then, I can turn it around. He didn’t call me. He did call me. I’m going to try that shoe on. I’m going to muse that. Okay, another turn-around. I didn’t call him. Done. Pick up the phone. Call him. That’s it. And, If I don’t, then I understand why he didn’t call me. If my reason is valid. I can just laugh. He must have a valid one, as well.
DONNA: And what about when people say, “but, my expectations are valid, and I don’t want to be a doormat.” I expect certain protocol. I expect certain responsibilities from people… to call when they say they are going to call. What about that?
KATIE: Well, it just shows me who I want to do business with. Who I want to be friends with. Do I want to be friends with an undependable? And is there such thing in the world as a dependable human being? The scope of possibilities for friendships start. So, if it’s someone who doesn’t call me, and I expect the call… it feels like this… He didn’t call me. He didn’t call me! Just look at how freed up I am, to do other things, when he doesn’t call! Also, he’s not putting something on me. You could go on, and on, and on, why it’s a good thing.
When someone doesn’t call you, when they say that they would. But, when we are thinking some of the things that you brought up, like, he didn’t call me and he’s not dependable. Look at me. I’m so out of touch. Who would want to call me, in the first place? I mean, look at who I’m defining myself to be. So, I’m too busy to attach to what I’m thinking and believing. I’m having a good life… too busy to suffer. And now, I know the cause of suffering, and how to deal with that. I have options in life that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It doesn’t mean I’m going to take advantage of those options.
DONNA: And, it doesn’t mean… for those listening, that we sincerely want to keep doing business with this person. It’s what we decide.
KATIE: Yes. And someone who doesn’t call me… And I say, I love him. I want to be with him. He wants me to marry him. One way, we are going to teach them and train them. The other way, I should just spare myself, and not marry him in the first place. Every time we do our work, we come out wiser human beings. Freedom is just another term for wisdom, when we look at that kind of freedom that you and I are pointing to today.
DONNA: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our viewers?
KATIE: That the work is always free at ByronKatie.com and TheWork.com. I just saw something on the screen here, and I have a No Body event happening, May 2ndand 6th,and it’s filling quickly. But, that is just pure non-duality, Donna. This is for people who just want to know the source of our apparent beingness. And then, I’ll be in Europe. There is a school for Germany—my nine-day school, in July. And, I’ll also be in Switzerland, and I look forward to that. And Holland. I’ll be around and about, in Europe.
DONNA: And all of this is on your website…
KATIE: Yes. 9-day school in Ojai,in November.
DONNA: I wish you wonderful travels. And thank you.
KATIE: Thank you, Donna. We never really travel, do we? I could see the hotel and the school for Germany. I was reading it and sharing it here. And when I’m in Germany, I might see me sitting here.
DONNA: Because we bring our heads with us. This noisy thing up there.
KATIE: Yeah, we are everywhere we go.
DONNA: Does it ever stop? The noise? It’s a daily practice cycle.
KATIE: It’s like the answer to a prayer. It’s like, “he didn’t call me…”Or, “Oh my gosh… life is terrible…” “Oh my gosh, life is wonderful!” But,I don’t have thoughts like, “life is terrible,” anymore. Inquiry is very still. Completely still. There is no question. You would have to ask a question before I would have any need to respond.
DONNA: So, you have gotten to a place where it’s so automatic, that you are peaceful most of the time?
KATIE: I don’t know how to measure that. I haven’t had a problem for more than 30 years.
DONNA: That’s a delicious thing.
KATIE: Yes, it is. I’ll take it.
DONNA: Thank you very much, Byron Katie. It was just a delight to spend this time with you.
KATIE: Thank you, Donna, again, for your good work.
DONNA: Thank you.
Read and Watch Part I Here: Awaken Interviews Byron Katie Pt 1 – Awakening Is The Absence Of Suffering
Read and Watch Part II Here: Awaken Interviews Byron Katie Pt 2 – I Am The Cause Of My Own Suffering
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